c. 1400, "artillery piece, mounted gun for throwing projectiles by force of gunpowder," from Anglo-French canon (mid-14c.), Old French canon (14c.), from Italian cannone "large tube, barrel," augmentative of Latin canna "reed, tube" (see cane (n.)). The double -n- spelling to differentiate it from canon is from c. 1800. Cannon fodder (1847) translates German kanonenfutter (compare Shakespeare's food for powder in "I Hen. IV").
updated on September 24, 2019